What to Know
Insulation keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. However, homes old and new often have inadequate levels of or old insulation. When correctly installed with air sealing, each type of insulation can deliver comfort and lower energy bills during the hottest and coldest times of the year.
There are several common types of insulation — fiberglass (in both batt and blown forms), cellulose, rigid foam board, and spray foam. Reflective insulation (or radiant barrier) is another insulating product which can help save energy in hot, sunny climates but has been the subject of some exaggerated claims There are some good independent studies that review testing done on many of these products. One good source is Energy Vangauad by Allison Balles. See the article “Oooh shiny stuff – Fundamentals of Radiant Barriers”
Insulation performance is measured by R-value — its ability to resist heat flow. Higher R-values mean more insulating power. Different R-values are recommended for walls, attics, basements and crawlspaces, depending on your area of the country.
What to Do
Insulation works best when air is not moving through or around it. So it is very important to seal air leaks before installing insulation to ensure that you get the best performance from the insulation. To get the biggest savings, the easiest place to add insulation is usually in the attic.
It is common in our area to insulate to R-38 but the Department of Energy recommends R-49 for greater savings (about 13 – 15″).
A comprehensive home energy assessment will help identify where you have inadequate levels of insulation that could be to blame for your high energy bills and uncomfortable living space.
Insulation is one of the common upgrades for homeowners in LEAP’s programs.
“I’m grateful for the education and for the opportunity to go above the suggestions to make my home more energy efficient, more financially efficient and more comfortable.The first night we had the foam insulation, the house felt better. My wife said, ‘it’s like someone put a blanket on our house.’ We’re planning on staying in our house longer, so making this decision to invest in our house was a no-brainer.” — Jim Duncan, Winner of the 2011 PowerSaver Makeover Contest (CEVA)